Here at Smile Solutions patients often ask us about the problem of bad breath and what they can do to prevent or manage it.
Bad breath, or halitosis, affects up to 5 per cent of the population and there are lots of factors that can contribute to this frustrating and often embarrassing condition.
An excess of dental plaque in the mouth is the first main contributor to halitosis, with four out of five cases stemming from an abundance of plaque on the tongue.
Dental plaque is a combination of food and bacteria which adheres to the tooth surface.
Whether plaque builds up or not depends on our diet and our cleaning routines.
You can improve your diet by increasing high-fibre foods and avoiding sugary drinks and foods, especially sweet snacks between meals. (The saliva we produce during meals works to rinse away the harmful acids that stick to our teeth as a result of plaque, but there isn’t enough of this saliva when we snack.)
As far as oral hygiene is concerned, you can improve your routine by making sure it includes brushing, flossing and removal of plaque from the tongue surfaces, as well as the inclusion of an antibacterial mouthwash.
Excessive plaque can also result in dental decay and/ or gum disease, which might also be responsible for bad breath in some cases. In this instance treatment is straightforward. The standard recommendation consists of a dental checkup to diagnose and treat any underlying dental decay as well as a professional clean to remove built-up plaque and tartar.
Dry mouth, or xerostomia, may also contribute to bad breath. Causes of dry mouth can be as simple as too little water intake, excessive caffeine consumption or the side effects of any of numerous medications or other diseases such as diabetes.
In the case of halitosis as a result of dry mouth, many patients find relief of symptoms through the use certain rehydrating mouthwashes.
So remember: to keep bad breath at bay, eat high-fibre foods whenever possible, only eat sweets at mealtimes, brush (including your tongue!) twice daily, floss once daily, use a mouthwash when appropriate, and visit your dental professional regularly.